Business digest 12/21/04

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Penalty tariffs on shrimp imports upheld

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration on Monday upheld the imposition of penalty tariffs on shrimp imports from Brazil, Ecuador, India and Thailand. The move won praise from U.S. shrimp producers but drew criticism from importers, who said the tariffs would drive up food costs. The Commerce Department ruling affirmed with slight modifications a preliminary ruling reached in late July that the four countries were selling shrimp in the United States at unfairly low prices.

Monsanto raises its earnings outlook

ST. LOUIS -- Monsanto Co. on Monday increased its earnings projections for the 2005 fiscal year and first quarter, citing stronger results in key markets, and announced plans to set aside $285 million for costs tied to the bankruptcy case of spinoff Solutia Inc. Solutia was spun off by Monsanto as a separate company in 1997. Monsanto cautioned that the fund may differ from its estimate. Monsanto raised its first-quarter outlook to 13 cents per share on an ongoing basis, up from its previous expectations of a flat showing to 4 cents per share.

Minimum wage enough for rent in only 4 counties

WASHINGTON -- In only four of the nation's 3,066 counties can someone working full time and earning federal minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday. The National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual "Out of Reach" report that a one-bedroom apartment was considered affordable for minimum-wage workers in Crawford, Lawrence and Wayne counties in Southern Illinois, where the housing wage was under $6.29 an hour. The state minimum wage for most employees is $5.50 an hour, but will rise to $6.50 an hour on Jan. 1. Washington County, Fla., was the fourth county listed.

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